I went out to photograph today. Unlike my last foray this past Saturday, the weather was nice and remained so. But like my last foray, the excursion yielded only one image. Odd, maybe so. Or maybe not so much. More and more I’ve found when working on personal projects that images often come on their own in between everything that makes up a day. Getting from point A to point B for other reasons.
Today I opted to go south into the Pine Barrens. A place known for its desert of scrub pines, its sandy soil, its folklore including the Jersey Devil, and its strong military presence. I took many back roads and dirt roads, surprised to see that I was passing dozens of Fort Dix’s shooting ranges, each right on the road, no fences, nothing.
I was born in Fort Dix but have little connection with it beyond that. It’s a place of ghosts. My father was stationed there when I was born. I remember driving my friend Leonard there in his parents’ Volkswagen Rabbit so that he could catch a military flight.
When I was a kid I spent a lot of time in the Pine Barrens camping, hiking, and canoeing. Lately, it has been a place we pass through as we go to the beach.
New Egypt, Hockamik, Cookstown, Browns Mills, Hanover Furnace, Whitesbog, Upton, McDonald, and Four Mile. Towns small and smaller. Some doing fine, some barely functioning, and some historic sites with little else. I was on my way to Chatsworth. I don’t know why. It was stuck in my head when I mapped out the route. Maybe it had been the starting point for a hike or a canoe trip? Or maybe it was from John McPhee’s book, read back in high school. In Chatsworth I found my one photo and moved on.
East along Rte. 72 to see if I could get an image of the expanse of pines from the hilltop while others rushed to and from Long Beach Island – I couldn’t. A quick jaunt south to Warren Grove but our discovery from last summer, Lucille’s Country Cooking, was closed. So, north, west, and north; the back way through Woodmansie, Bullock, and Wheatland. No signs of towns, just deep woods with houses set back deeper, barely visible. A possible photo here or there but the internal debate of stopping or not always taking over.
A second straight version, still deciding which I like better.